Illinois
A Lyon’s Share

"Tell me about your family, Joan. Do they live in Chicago?" His gaze roamed over her face, not missing the way she avoided meeting his eyes.

He was making small talk, filling in the gaping silence of her unease. Conversation was necessary, if for no other reason than to keep her wayward thoughts in check. Answering his questions might take her mind off the softening effect the candlelight was having on his carved face. It seemed to heighten his attraction and make her more aware of his sensual virility.

"No, my parents live in a little town about ninety miles from here," she answered in response to his question. "I have an older brother in the service. He's stationed in Germany right now. My younger brother is in his last year of high school and my baby sister is in her first year, so they're both living at home."

"What does your father do?"

"He and my mother run a small general store. It's a family affair. Jean and Bob, my sister and brother, help out after school and on weekends." The smile she gave him was hesitant.

"It sounds like a very warm, settled environment." Brandt leaned forward to crush out his cigarette, his gaze flicking smoothly over her face. "You aren't the type to crave the excitement of the big city. What brought you to Chicago?"

"The secretarial college. When I graduated, there weren't any job openings in my home town, so I stayed on here."

"It can be lonely without family and friends," he commented.

Joan knew just how lonely it could be.
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